Slight Departure News

Press Releases

October 2012

Dear Friends,

Sorry about the gap in news. The fact is we have been gigging much the same as ever. We played a number of private events for conferences that there wasn’t much point in listing on our schedule. The big change in 2012 is that Slight Departure has a slightly new look and sound thanks to the introduction of Molly Barrett on fiddle. Molly began joining us at the Orchard at Altapass over the summer and wowed us all with her smooth lilting style of playing. Although she is steeped in classical training, Molly’s ability to improvise “off the book” on any popular tune is delightful. Just check her bio:

Molly Barrett began her study of the violin at the age of four. Graduating from Appalachian State University with a music degree, she was a member of the Appalachian State Orchestra and the Liberace Quartet. Later, she returned to Emory and Henry College in Virginia where she completed Suzuki Violin teacher training with SAA Teacher Trainer, Libby Armour. Currently, Molly holds the Assistant Principal 2nd violin position with the Western Piedmont Symphony. She also enjoys old time and Celtic fiddle music and in 1999 she was awarded the title of Junior Old Time Fiddle Champion at Fiddler’s Grove in Union Grove, NC.

Also it has been brought to our attention that we never submitted a bio for Jon Dana, our journeyman flute, bass and guitar player. So here goes:

Jon Dana comes from a musical family and has been playing since he was a kid. As a student he played trombone and tuba in High School concert, jazz, and marching bands. Sometime in there he heard Bob Dylan and the Beatles, and everything changed (sorry dad!). As an acoustic and electric guitarist and electric bassist he has played folk, country, rock, blues, Irish/Celtic, jazz, classical, and Americana music. Slight Departure is the perfect fit for him, since they touch on all of those genres in the course of a good season of performances!

The bios for founding members Alan Darveaux, Sherrill Keever, and Jeff Haslam originally resided on Alan’s former dulcimer website which is now incorporated into Alan’s existing Facebook page. We will place that information on this website in the near future.

Altapass recently sold out but has been remastered and is available again. We are getting inquiries as to how to hear sound clips of our music. Just go to the music section of our website and click on your choice of the CD you want to hear. The link will take you to CDBaby where you can hear samples of each song and download singles if you like.

We are looking forward to our next event: The Brown Mountain Lights Symposium at CoMMA in Morganton November 3 and then diving into some new recording sessions through the winter.

Thanks for keeping in touch!


February 2008

Slight Departure ended up the season at the Orchard with another live recording session October 14. We have scheduled our 2008 dates there and they will be posted shortly.

Jim Clark returned to the band to pinch hit for Jon on the upright bass at the Mountain Dance and Folk Festival in Asheville and also for the Old Time competition at the North Carolina Mountain State Fair. His efforts did not go unrewarded as we took the following prizes:
Jim Clark– first place Old Time bass
Jeff Haslam – first place Old Time mandolin
Sherrill Keever – third place Old Time guitar
Slight Departure – second place Old Time band

Unfortunately, there was no dulcimer competition but we know who would have walked away with that prize. Speaking of Alan, his popular dulcimer classes will again be offered at the Orchard this summer. He played to a full house at a house concert in Minocqua, Wisconsin December 29. The rest of us have stayed closer to home over the holidays and we’re all looking forward to seeing you in the 2008 music season.

April 2007

The opening of the Dogwood blossoms has signaled the beginning of another season for Slight Departure. The Orchard dates are scheduled, plus a few others with more to come.

Sales of Altapass have continued despite our Winter break from gigging and at this point we are happy to report that the CD has paid for itself. During our “off” season, we have been busy on a number of side projects:

Alan played a house concert in Minoqua, WI over the holidays to a full house of North Woods cross-country skiers while enjoying a visit with old friends and skiing in the Upper Peninsula. In February Alan taught at Joe Collins Foothills Dulcimer Workshop in Shelby. Alan has finalized plans to teach dulcimer lessons at the Orchard starting June 9th and continuing each second Saturday through October. Also, Alan will be singing and playing in the afternoon at the Orchard the first Thursday of each month June through September. Check www.altapassorchard.com for details.

Jeff has been working on some recording projects for Little King Records (results forthcoming) and played a few gigs with Marshall Ballew, including a live radio performance at WDVX in Knoxville.

Sherrill has been making plans for his retirement from state employment.

And the biggest news of all: please welcome our new bass player, Jon Dana. His pictures will be posted shortly. Jon recently moved back into our area from Charleston, where he played in the house band at Tommy Condon’s Irish Pub. He is well versed in guitar as well and will be picking one up with Slight Departure from time to time.

Former bassist Jim Clark is currently expanding his musical horizons. We wish him well and will relay news about him as he continues to remain in touch.

We look forward to seeing our old friends and meeting new ones in the months to come. Thank you for keeping up with us and come back soon.

September 2006

Slight Departure Releases Altapass, Long Awaited Second CD on Little King Records®

Altapass is a celebration of the special relationship that often develops between a band and a certain venue where they play time and again. The liner notes in the CD describe this relationship in detail: "Something just clicks between the staff, the audience, and the band, and the relationship becomes some kind of ongoing process that acquires a life of its own and influences the musical direction of the band." We say "long awaited" because the basic tracks were recorded live at The Historic Orchard at Altapass in Little Switzerland, N.C. in 2004. The tracks mostly languished while the band continued to tour and tried to maintain their day jobs and family lives. Jeff Haslam, mandolin player for the band, retired from teaching in February 2006 and began work in earnest editing out the dog barks and other glitches. He added parts from other mandolins to flesh out the "old timey" feel of the songs, never having the luxury of being able to switch instruments in mid-song onstage. Some studio effects were added here and there, including creative left/right panning and occasional reverb. Jeff and Keever's vocals were treated with megaphone effects on Five Foot Two, Eyes of Blue. A Waltz for Uncle John, Marshall Ballew's heartfelt remembrance of Jerry Garcia was dressed up with a rousing Cajun-style percussion and accordion celebration at the end, featuring Greg Hils and Patti Peake (that's Marshall's holler during the final romp, copied and pasted from a previous recording by Radiation Blues Banned produced also by Scorpion Hill Sound). Says Jeff, "I was able to combine the two bands that I play in to produce what was always my ideal conception of how to record that song."

The result is a hybrid CD that is both live and "studiofied." One of our good friends commented after hearing the advance copy that he liked the songs, "particularly the live ones." We weren't sure whether or not to take this as a compliment (it's live, but it sounds studio-recorded, or, too bad we couldn't get enough of the audience response to show they were all live). Because there were no mics in the audience, the audience response is almost completely edited from the songs, and seeing that the interaction with the audience is what drives the direction of the music (Five Foot Two being the best example), in future live recordings we hope to include the audience in a bigger way. A lot of musicians will tell you that recording live and then overdubbing is a wonderful way to catch the spontaneity you can't get when you're in a room with partitions, dealing with headphones, etc. and trying to get this take "exactly right." But the down side is not being able to use high-end mics that one can stand 3 feet from in an isolation chamber. So every puff of air can sound like a hurricane and a lot of microsurgery is needed to bring down the loud notes and random pops. Digital recording is both a blessing and a curse. It is remarkably clear and at the same time, persistently unforgiving. We cheated and put one song on the CD that was not recorded live, Sherill Keever's June Bug Two Step, which was recorded in the studio while the band was assembling the equipment to be used in recording at The Orchard. Keever had his new "dulcilele" as he calls it, and had just composed a new ditty. This version was one of those spontaneous "first takes" that sounded so good and reflected the feel of Altapass so well that it was the one chosen for inclusion on the album. Sherill recently recorded a bone-chilling version of Shady Grove with this instrument, another serendipitous one-off that we hope to make available in the near future. We expect that the timing of our recording releases will improve now that Jeff has more time to devote to the technical aspects. As a side note, we are still very proud of our debut release, Alan Darveaux and Slight Departure Live in Carolina, which received a favorable review in Sing Out! magazine in 2002 (Vol. 41, No.2), and continues to be reprinted and sold at Slight Departure shows and retail outlets.

Altapass has already been described to us as "very listenable"... "singable"..."danceable." That works for us. After all, that's how the songs were developed and we would never would have thought of putting some of them on a CD except for the inspiration and interchange we experienced in playing for a most unique group of locals and travelers who visit this great American crossroads every weekend. Slight Departure will make its last appearance of the season at The Orchard on Sunday, September 24, 2006, from 2:00 - 4:30. Further information and directions can be found at the website: altapassorchard.com.

Updated 09/08/07
Scorpion Hill Creations